Zoom. Meta. Google. Expedia. They’re all leaders in their respective tech categories, and yet none are immune to the ups and downs of doing business — including tech layoffs.
Seeing tech’s best and brightest stumble can shake our confidence. It’s also an important reminder to us all that unprecedented challenges happen — and that we need to create sustainable growth strategies that hold up when even the most unexpected comes to pass.
Here at First Page Strategy, we believe that growth during tech layoffs is possible. But to unlock that growth, you’ll first have to take a hard look at your business and develop a slow and steady plan that’ll help you thrive for the long haul.
Ready to work? We’re game if you are.
But first, the facts:
How Many Tech Jobs Have Been Laid Off?
More than 100,000 tech employees have been laid off as of March 2023. That’s on top of the more than 140,000 employees who lost their jobs in 2022.
According to NerdWallet, more employees were laid off in 2022 than in 2020 and 2021 combined. But as scary as layoffs are, the unemployment rate is still pretty low (around 3.4%).
Which Tech Companies Are Laying Off?
Tech companies of all sizes are laying off their employees, but it’s especially prevalent (and publicized) among the tech giants. Accenture, Amazon, Alphabet (Google’s parent company), Meta, Zoom, Spotify, and Microsoft are all among the 528 companies that have laid people off in 2023.
While they’re the most recent culprits, they certainly weren’t the first to reduce their workforce: 1,024 other companies laid off employees in 2022, bringing the count to just over 1,500 companies that have eliminated jobs since last fall.
Why Is Tech Laying Off So Many People?
Remember those unprecedented challenges we mentioned earlier? Well, tech is laying off so many people because of the most unprecedented challenge in recent memory: COVID-19.
Yep, good old COVID-19 is still responsible for shaking up our norms, namely the prowess of big tech. The internet experienced something of a renaissance when the pandemic hit. Video calls were aplenty, new tech was in demand, and tech companies rapidly hired to keep up. The problems started when the lockdown came to a close, the workplace slowly normalized, and the new rush for tech slowed to a trickle.
Tech companies that hired with abandon now have employees they either can’t utilize, can’t afford, or some mix of the two. And what does that mean? Layoffs, and massive ones at that.
But the truth is that layoffs aren’t inevitable — they’re a reaction to the knee-jerk fervor many companies took to hiring. You can and should use this as motivation to chart a new path for your organization, one that’s less reactionary, more sustainable, and more successful in the long run.
How to Create Slow, Steady, Sustainable Growth
Zoom CEO Eric Yuan said it best in a February statement to current and former employees:
“We didn’t take as much time as we should have to thoroughly analyze our teams or assess if we were growing sustainably toward the highest priorities.”
If anything, the recent tech layoffs prove how important sustainable growth is to your people and your bottom line — both of which are key to making your vision a reality. Here’s how to create it:
1. Focus on the Long Term
Trends are just that: trends. While we’re not suggesting you ignore the TikTok dance of the moment (who doesn’t love a good dance routine?), we are suggesting you think twice about larger swings in your industry. Ask yourself: What will the impact of [trend] be on my industry, and how long will it last?
Even if you expect something to stick around for a long time or maybe even for good, it doesn’t mean you should make sweeping changes to keep up. Instead, assess what your company will look like if it successfully harnesses said trend, then slowly scale up to get there. That way, you won’t have completely overhauled your company if the landscape once again changes — as it so often does.
2. Optimize Your Current Resources and Minimize Expenses
More isn’t always better. Using a handful of resources well is often better than under-utilizing dozens of different ones. Before you make big changes, take stock of your current resources. Can you utilize them differently or better?
Remember that your people are among the most valuable resources you have. Think about how you can get the most out of the team you’ve already built, rather than rushing to expand your ranks. This might mean leveraging new tech to automate repetitive tasks or simply reassessing what’s mission-critical and what’s not.
Optimizing what you have also opens the door to cutting out what you don’t need — a win/win for your business plan and your bottom line.
3. Implement a Data-Driven Decision-Making Process
The most sustainable companies follow facts, not feelings. Just because you’re feeling the pinch from a change in your market or industry doesn’t mean it’s time to act. Instead, gather data.
Collect as much information as you can handle about your company, your industry, or even the market in general. This includes data about what’s happening now as well as credible forecasts about what may happen down the line.
You might find that the data tells a slightly different story than your gut feeling. That's okay! Good, even. But whatever the data suggests, use it to make decisions about your people, your products, or anything else that comes up. Even if that means holding the course until new data comes along.
4. Build Strong Relationships With Your Customers
Your customers make you profitable. They are the ones who buy your product, subscribe to your service, or utilize your app. Yet it’s shockingly easy to forget about your end users: Those wonderful humans who look to you to make their lives easier in both tangible and intangible ways.
It’s important to remember that you don’t actually need to keep up with the times, you just need to keep up with your customers. Help them, give them resources, build things they’ll love, and take every opportunity to earn their trust so that they’ll continue to support you as you grow.
5. Continue to Innovate and Invest in Emerging Technologies
Tech employment may be on a downward trend at the moment. But innovation is still on the up. Artificial intelligence (can you say ChatGPT?), cryptocurrencies, and cloud computing will only continue to reshape how we do business. This is your chance to get out in front of it.
If you can contribute to innovations like these, do it. If you can’t, consider how you can incorporate emerging technology into your business so that your ways of working keep pace with the world around you. Use ChatGPT to save time. Use cloud computing to make it easier to engage with employees and customers around the world. Use any other technology that arises to enhance your organization — not radically reshape it.
Build a More Resilient 2023 and Beyond
Growth is hard, whether you burn fast and bright or slow and steady. But it really is true that with growth, you reap what you sow.
Think about your garden (if you have one. If not, close your eyes and pretend you have a green thumb). While it’s tempting to rush outside and break ground at the first sign of spring, the reality is your seeds may very well get wiped out by a late-season cold spell. But if you take it slow, let your plants take root on a sunny windowsill inside your home, and wait to plant until winter is well and truly over, your chances of having healthy, fruitful plants are pretty good.
Which future do you want for your garden? For your company?
That’s what growth during tech layoffs should be: planting some seeds, nurturing their growth, and watching them thrive as conditions improve.
If this sounds daunting, don’t let it be. Reach out any time. We’d love to help you cultivate your growth (and your marketing) in 2023 and beyond.